Thursday, May 25, 2017

NEWS FLASH: Not the Same Old “D & I” – Diversity & Inclusion – Program

My mental health advocacy and education work with the Nepali professional and lay communities ( is encouraging me to expand energy and ideas into surprising cultural/educational realms.  More specifically, Dr, Anita Nahal, "The Diversity Doc," a recognized cultural diversity expert, both in the US and in India, and I are teaming up to offer an uncommon mix of East and West, "Diversity & Inclusion," and Stress Resilience ideas and interventions.  Our goal: recognizing and transforming unconscious workplace "Assumptions, Biases, and misguided Communications."  These are the "Cultural ABCs" that weaken team resilience, resourcefulness, collaboration, and creativity.  And while this partnership breaks new ground, it sustains the "Get FIT" spirit of all Stress Doc programs:  by being FUN-Interactive-Thought-provoking!
For more info on how this unique partnership can help boost your team's, organization's, or company's productivity and purpose, energy and community morale, please send a linked-in text or email to

Don't miss your appointment with the Diversity Doc and the Stress Doc!

Dr. Anita Nahal, PhD, CDP, acclaimed author, administrator, professor, and D & I Consultant, the Diversity Doc, and Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, acclaimed speaker, team building consultant, and Motivational Psychohumorist ™, the Stress Doc ™, have joined forces.  This dynamic duo will help you and your company or organization discover the possibility and power of “human touch in a high-tech world” through their innovative D & I, East-West Synergy Model & Method.  Recognize and practice how an awareness of bias enhances self-discovery, mutual empathy, and stimulating diversity. And this applied learning helps build an inclusive cultural climate of trust and civility as well as the sharing of ideas, positive conflict, and productive energy, i.e., stress resilience, greater morale, and interpersonal/team creativity!

Through lively and en-light-ening presentation and real world small group exercises, Anita and Mark will help your team “Get FIT” with their FUN-Interactive-Thought-provoking program.  Discover tools and techniques, skills and strategies (see objectives below) for applying a novel approach that brings bias barriers to light and “D & I” to life!
Don’t miss your appointment with the Diversity and Stress Docs!

The Beauty and CHALLENGES of Diversity & Inclusion (D & I)
“THE EAST-WEST SYNERGY Model” for Overcoming Unconscious Bias
while Strengthening Resilience, Trust, Morale &
DROI – Diversity Return on Investment

Overview:  This UNIQUE workshop BROUGHT TO YOU BY TWO VERY DIVERSE PROFESSIONALS will inspire individuals and groups to develop workable solutions that transform the opportunities and challenges of diversity and inclusion (D & I) into stress resilience, trust- and team-building.  Learn to view unconscious bias (UB) as a window to self-understanding and human connection. More specifically, participants will learn to release stress, transform conflict, build cultural-interpersonal bridges, evolve “winning teams,” and achieve the “diversity return on investment.” This has never been more critical…in today’s always on TNT – Time-Numbers-Techno – Driven, Distracted & Distressed (3-“D”) World.  In fact, recent research reveals one out of two employees leave their job because of burnout!

Learning Objectives:

Participants will:

1. Understand the Overviews of D & I and UB, and Stress and Burnout/Stress and Conflict Resilience Concepts and Theories:  An INTER-CULTURAL Partnership and Program

2. Grasp the Layered Nature of D & I:  Psychological-Cultural and Self-Other-Environment Awareness

3. Learn to Disarm Power Struggles and Engaging Critical (or Passive) Aggressors:  Communication Tools for Increasing Understanding, Respect, and Trust

4. Understand the Concepts of Unconscious Bias and Their Impact on Perceptions, Value Judgments, and Actions

5. Use Mind-Mapping for Meaningful Self-Analysis and Understanding to deal with ONE'S own Unconscious Bias; Discover the Universal Judgmental Error through Attribution Theory

6. Explore and Apply the Inter-Cultural Conflict and Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Styles:  Models, Methods, and Problem-Solving Exercises; develop workplace workable strategies and solutions

7.  Confront the Intimate FOE and Experience the Power of Writing and the Creative – East and West – Expressions

About the presenters:

Anita Nahal, PhD, CDP is a poet, children's books author, professor, administrator, D&I Consultant, & Founder & Chairperson,   Dr. Anita Nahal resides in New Jersey with her blessing, her son. Some of Nahal's past positions include: Mellon Fellowship Program Administrator for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Assistant Provost for International Programs, Howard University, Washington D.C.; Visiting Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York at Binghamton, New York; and Associate Professor of History, Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, India. Nahal has held various academic honors, such as the Fulbright and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Besides two academic books, Nahal has one book of poems (Initiations-1988), three children’s books, & over 30 articles in journals & blogs. She writes periodically on LinkedIn. Nahal's most recent data oriented study on Ethnic and Cultural Diversity at HBCUs was published as a chapter in a book in 2015. Her second volume of poems is ready for publication, and some of the poems form this volume can be found in Aberration LabyrinthBetter Than Starbucks, Confluence & aaduna. Nahal has travelled to over 15 countries, speaks three foreign languages, and comes from a family of writers and educators. Nahal has two awards in diversity awareness and promotion, and has three certifications to her credit in diversity and inclusion training. More info on Nahal at:

Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, known as the "The Stress Doc" ™, is an acclaimed speaker, writer, and "Psychohumorist" ™, is a Leadership Coach/Training-Retreat Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters. Mark is also a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative.  Over the years, the Doc has trained and consulted with many hundreds of government agencies and corporations.  A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous transformative – silo-breaking and communications bridge-building – Pre- and Post-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for US Army Senior Officers and Sergeants.  The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress:  Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression, The Four Faces of Anger:  Transforming Hostility and Rage into Assertion and Passion, Fierce Longing…Fiery Loss:  Relearning to Let Go, Laugh & Love, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World:  Writings, Raps & Rhymes.  His award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" – – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR).  The Doc also provides Stress Resilience and Burnout Recovery In-Person and Phone-Skype Counseling as well as Communication/Public Speaking Coaching.  For more info, email:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Busy Women's Retreat Flies Again: Rebuilding Mind-Body Energy and Emotional Muscles

The Busy Women's Retreat Flies Again.  See flier below.
Led by Mark Gorkin, LICSW, aka The Stress Doc, and Christine Pilson, a certified Health Coach

SATURDAY, JUNE 10th FROM 9:00am to 4:00pm
Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist Church
2912 Clubhouse Rd, Finksburg, MD 21048
Do you know any woman who is working, taking care of a family and a home, maybe even parents elderly or infirm…on top of living in today’s TNT – Time-Numbers-Techno – Driven & Distracted World?  Did anyone say STRESS?  And the second most important question:  You know self-care is a priority, so why aren't you really doing it?
Have no fear…the Health Coach and the Stress Doc ™ are here to help you “Get FIT” through their FUN-Interactive-Thought-provoking One Day Retreat.  Christine and Mark will share powerful tools and techniques for grappling with and working through stress and conflict, loss, and change.  However, the real learning and growth comes from being in a safe space and authentically sharing with women, like yourself, on the front lines of the stress-burnout battlefront.

A testimonial from the original BWR retreat:

Busy Women's Retreat
at Blue Mountain Retreat Center/Harper's Ferry, WV
March 14, 2010


Thank you so much for giving such a meaningful presentation at the Busy Women's Retreat here at Blue Mountain on March 5th and 6th. The subject matter, "Transforming Stress, Conflict and Change into Passion Power" was itself a very powerful theme, and you were able to so skillfully present and guide the group! This subject brought a lot of heavy emotions from the women to the surface. Your ability to help the women work through their issues, and even more importantly, your ability to give them tools with which to transform their stress was truly amazing. The participants in the retreat told me personally that they were very impressed with the way that you managed the group and that they took away many things that they can use in their everyday life. Your presentation helped them to evaluate their stressors differently, to see the positive in every stress, conflict and/or change. Moreover, you helped them to realize they are not alone, and you were so skilled at allowing and encouraging others to give feedback within the group!I am just so impressed with your organization, your presentation and your professionalism. I will certainly hire you again, and the women in this first group all said they look forward to working with you again at a future gathering! Thank you for your time, effort, intelligence and caring. You are truly a gifted workshop leader!!

Beth Ehrhardt, Owner
Blue Mountain Retreat Center
Knoxville, MD 21758
Please email or call 301-875-2567 with any questions.  Hope to see you soon.  Mark
Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW
The Stress Doc ™
Stress, Change & Leader Resilience Speaking, Coaching
Crisis & Critical Incident Intervention-Consultation
Burnout-Bullying/Conflict-Grief Counseling

Index of Linked-In Blogs:

Busy Women's Retreat

Rebuilding Mind-Body Energy and Emotional Muscles
Led by Mark Gorkin, LICSW, aka The Stress Doc, and
Christine Pilson, a certified Health Coach

SATURDAY, JUNE 10th FROM 9:00am to 4:00pm
Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist Church
2912 Clubhouse Rd, Finksburg, MD 21048

Are you a working woman who takes care of family, a home, maybe even elderly parents, on top of living in a driven and distracted world?

This full day retreat will teach you how to rapidly identify stress and burnout, deal with grief and loss, as well as provide tools to help you become resilient. Learn how to say “No”, to disarm power struggles, defuse criticism, and affirm your integrity. Discover the mind-body connection, holistic healing and rejuvenating energy, along with the importance of self-care.  Design new pathways of the possible!
This day-long retreat is $85 per person and includes:
ü  Interactive discussions and activities
ü  Two mini-yoga sessions for all abilities
ü  A fully-catered lunch
ü  Materials to take home

 Please register before June 2nd by contacting
Christine Pilson at, or 443-789-6977

Program Objectives:  The Dynamic Dozen

Ø  Take a Natural SPEED Stress Resilience Quiz
Ø  Rapidly Identify Signs and Causes of Stress & Burnout, Anxiety & Depression
Ø  Learn the tools to bounce back from stress and the Seven “R”s of recovery from burnout
Ø  Connect the dots between loss, trigger events and letting go
Ø  Lean to Meaningfully Transform and Grow from Loss and Change
Ø  Discover Energy Healing:  Controversial Theories & Uncommon Practices
Ø  Identify Barriers to Communication and Connection
Ø  Explore the Stress Doc’s Four Faces of Anger Model
Ø  Disarming Power Struggles through Active Listening & Questioning Skills
Ø  Identify Barriers to Healthy Eating & Physical Exercise
Ø  Discover Why Food Is the Foundation of Health & Healing
Ø  Confronting Your Intimate FOE:  From Fear of Exposure to Fun of Embarrassment

Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and “Motivational Psychohumorist" ™, is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Crisis/Trauma Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Well Initiative.  Mark is also a Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University.  A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army.  The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World.
Christine Pilson is a Certified Health Coach who received her training from the Institute For Integrative Nutrition in New York City. She works with people either one-on-one or in group sessions to help them identify their health and wellness goals, create an action plan to reach those goals, and celebrate their successes! Christine approaches health and happiness from a holistic perspective. She believes that true wellness encompasses not only a person’s diet and exercise, but also their work, relationships, stress levels, spiritual practices, and how often they laugh and have fun. Christine specializes in digestive issues as well as stress and anxiety and holds workshops on a number of health and wellness topics.  She currently practices out of the Center For Healing Arts in Westminster, MD and Branches of Yoga in Sykesville, MD. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fast Food for Thought for a Digital Age: The Art of Being a Wise Man and a Wise Guy

The Stress Doc's short, smart, and fast-paced quips and sayings, acronyms and aphorisms, witty ditties and fast-paced Shrink Raps ™ from stress and conflict to creativity often infused with savvy, if not healing, humor. This collection will thought-provokingly tickle your head and heart…and may even touch your soul.  MG

Fast Food for Thought for a Digital Age:
The Art of Being a Wise Man and a Wise Guy

The subtitle of a text read a couple of years ago – Are You Being Heard or Are You Just Making Noise? – decidedly influenced this current Stress Doc compilation and possible future book.  (At minimum, I believe it has potential as a good bathroom read.)  The reality:  we live in a world where distraction is ever-rising and attention spans are shrinking.  So, I’m redesigning the old (and in my mind demeaning), “Keep It Simple, Stupid” declaration into “The Stress Doc’s New KISS:  Keep It Short & Smart!”  Drawing on quips sayings, acronyms and aphorisms, witty ditties and fast-paced Shrink Raps ™, this collection will thought-provokingly tickle your head and heart…and may even touch your soul.  As I’ve previously noted, one aspiration is to become the Dr. Seuss of Stress for Adults (and kids of all ages).

And this is but the initial course:  there’s a bunch more juicy one-liners, as well as “r & r” – raps and rhymes – in the Stress Doc bag of treats and tricks.  Would love to hear if you found the substance and style of Fast Food for Thought nourishing.  Actually, I hope to pair the quips with clips (clip art, that is).  What do you think of my expanded vision:  not only as a book (or audio book), but perhaps words and images might be paired in greeting cards and calendars?  If anyone knows a book agent or a publishing house that might be interested…I’m all eyes ( or ears (301-875-2567). To good adventures, Mark

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, the Stress Doc ™ and “Word Artist”
Wit and Wisdom of the Shrink Rapper ™ and Psychohumorist ™
and Originator of the Concept and Book, Practice Safe Stress ™,
also, author of Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World,
and Fierce Longing…Fiery Loss:  Relearning to Let Go, Laugh & Love

Fast Food for Thought for a Digital Age:
The Art of Being a Wise Man and a Wise Guy

The Stress Doc’s New KISS:  Keep It Short (or Simple) and Smart
A firm “No” a day keeps the ulcers away, and the hostilities, too!

Do know your limits and don’t limit your “No’s”!

Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we trust!

(The old masthead for “The Stress Doc’s Notes from a Psychohumorist” ™; and, naturally, after informing an audience that I am a “Psychohumorist,” my addition:  “I’ll let you all decide where the emphasis on that word goes.”

The Memorable MISS:  Make It Sassy (or Subtle) and Surprising
We know what the stress symptom TMJ really stands for:  Too Many Jerks!

Seek the higher power of Stress Doc humor:  May the Farce Be with You!

Learn to Fail…or Fail to Learn!

Laughter is the best tension reliever and sex is second…So if you are having “funny sex” you’re likely in good shape!

Everyday Aphormations (a “word artist” mix of Aphorism and Affirmation)

Amen and women, to that!

My pithy text after setting up a dinner date:  “Ciao for now, chow for later!”

Strive High and Embrace Failure!

There’s no “I” in “TEAM” but there are two “I”s in WINNING!  And these “I”s can “C”:
Winning teams blend Individual Creativity and Interactive Community!

SELF Aphormations

Stress Doc’s Notion of Self-Actualization
Being your fullest self without being full of yourself!

Tea for Two:  The Narcissist’s Version

You for me and me for me
Oh, how nurturing you will be
Forget “to be or not to be” …
Just simply think of Me, Me, Me!

The Fairy-Tail Monarch

When it comes to “media facts”
The Donald follows his bulging nose.
Despite all the attacks
He has nothing to hide
For once again…
The Emperor has no clothes!

“S”-Word for Passion

The “s”-word for “passion” is neither sex, nor “Senator” (as it once was, in Washington, DC, until Bill Clinton ruined my joke).  And it’s not “silk” nor “soap opera.”  No, the “s”-word for passion is “suffering” …as in the “Passion Play”:  the sufferings of Jesus or, more generically, the sufferings of a martyr.  (Imagine, all this time I never knew my Jewish mother was such a passionate woman. 😉)

Stress Resilience Acronyms

Are you trapped in a TNT – Time-Numbers-Technology – Driven and Distracted Web-World?

Seek the Stress Doc’s TLC:  Tender-Loving Criticism and Tough-Loving Care

Confronting the Intimate FOE:  Fear of Exposure

Transforming the Intimate FOE:  Turning Fear of Exposure into the Fun of Embarrassment (a popular, somewhat revealing, non-“b.s.” (be safe) workshop exercise

The Stress Doc’s “Get FIT” Programs:  FUN-Interactive-Thought-provoking!

Is Your Organization Going MA&DD (Media Addiction & Digital Distraction)?; Mothers Against Drunk Driving was going to sue me if I didn’t add the ampersand)

The Stress Doc’s new 12-Step “AA” Group:  Acronyms Anonymous!  (Especially relevant if not mandatory for those living in the Greater Washington, DC area or for folks working for or involved with government agencies.)

Burnout Wit and Wisdom

Burnout Definition:  Burnout is a gradual process by which a person detaches from work and other significant roles and relationships in response to excessive and prolonged stress and mental, physical, and emotional strain.  The result is lowered productivity, cynicism, confusion…a feeling of being drained, having nothing more to give!

Bjorn Bored Syndrome (BBS) (for the 1970-80s Swedish tennis great, Bjorn Borg, who prematurely burned out on the circuit)
When Mastery x Monotony provides an Index of MISERY!

The BBS Solution:
Fireproof your life with variety!
(In contrast to the aforementioned “b.s.”)

Burnout Metaphors
The Erosive Spiral

When academic flashdancing whirled to a burnout tango!

Burnout Radio Feature:  “Breaking Out of a Hell of a Shell or Don’t Feel Too Sorry for Humpty Dumpty…He Needed to Hit Bottom!

Burnout Aphormations
Burnout is less a sign of failure and more that you gave yourself away!

Vital Lesson of the Four “R”s:  If no matter what you do or how hard you try, Results, Rewards, Recognition, and Relief are not forthcoming, and you can’t say “No” or won’t “let go” (because you’ve invested so much time, identity, money, energy, and/or ego in the one right person, one right position, only one possible or acceptable outcome)…trouble awaits.  The groundwork is being laid for apathy, callousness, and despair!

Combat Strategies at the Burnout Battlefront
“Do your eight and hit the gate; nine to five and stay alive!”  (Battlefield slogan of VA Hospital Head Nurses)

The only thing more dangerous than taking a big risk or not taking any risk…is taking a risk while minimizing the precarious nature of the situation.

Loss and Letting Go

Vital Lesson of the Four “R”s
If no matter what you do or how hard you try, Results, Rewards, Recognition and Relief are not forthcoming and you can’t say “No” or won’t “let go” (because you’ve invested so much time, identity, money, energy, and/or ego in one right person, one right position, one possible or acceptable outcome), trouble awaits…The groundwork is being laid for apathy, callousness, and despair!

Whether the loss is a key person, a desired position or a powerful illusion, each deserves the respect of a mourning.  The pit in the stomach, the clenched fists, and quivering jaw, the anguished sobs prove catalytic in time.  In mystical fashion, like spring upon winter…the seeds of dissolution bear fruitful renewal.

Feeling Sorry…Feeling Your Sorrow

There’s a real difference between “feeling sorry for yourself” and “feeling your sorrow.”  When feeling sorry for yourself you are mostly blaming others.  When feeling your sorrow, you are having the courage to face and embrace your pain.  And there are times when we all need to feel our sorrow!

Finally…Letting Go or
Co-Dependent No More

Now dawns a new day
No more beg and pray
No false self to betray.
For with vision and verse
Let me be terse:
You can’t touch my core
Like you did once before.
So, whatever you choose
For me… nothing to lose…
I’ve stopped keeping score
Won’t sing those old blues
As I finally, yes really
Show you the door!

Stress Resilience and Humor

People are less defensive and more open to a serious message gift-wrapped with humor.

Ernst Kris:  What was once feared and is now mastered is laughed at.
Stress Doc:  What was once feared and is now laughed at…is no longer a master!
And finally, acknowledging that the term master, itself, may be controversial:  What was once feared and is now laughed with… likely becomes a mistress or lover!


Conflict Poems

Crazy for “You”

“It’s all your fault”; “You drive me crazy!”
Sounds like an assault from a mind that is lazy.
Do not be shy, here’s one good reply:
“Time after time, I know you have said it…
Alas, you still give me way too much credit.”

Losing It…Resting It

You may think I’m at a loss
Not having you as a boss.
But when it’s just me
Not us or you…
Please, do not tell me what to do.

Even when you “know what’s best”
(Though never quite put to the test)
Let me flounder; wait...still better
A request:  Geez, Louise…Just let it rest!

Practice Safe Stress:  The Origin of the Term
In the mid-1980's, I received a call from an administrator of a Houston law firm.  She wanted to know if I could lead a weekend stress retreat for thirty litigators, primarily male.  She quickly issued a warning before I could respond.  The previous year the firm had contracted with a facilitator who had a "just let it out" style of leadership.  Big surprise...the retreat turned into a rout.

When you're dealing with verbal swordsmen like attorneys, obviously if you let it all hang out, with the size of those legal egos, some of "it" is going to get cut off.  (Ouch. I become anxious just thinking about that!)  And the administrator let me know that Executive Management had made it clear that, with another fiasco, her bottom was on the line, if not the chopping block.
I tried to reassure her that I was a therapist, a conflict resolution consultant, and a former Type A, originally from New York City.  Naturally, living in New Orleans has reformed me.  I knew this unusual mix of "Big Apple" and "Big Easy" made me ready for "Mission Improbable."  She still was hesitant.  At this point, let me parenthetically add, that in the mid-1980s, the AIDS crisis was just starting to scarily grab hold of public consciousness.
I suddenly had an inspiration.  I said with conviction, "I know what you want.  You want a retreat that is so structured and controlled that it will protect these Type A verbal swordsmen (you know the 'A' in Type A stands for 'Attorney') from killing one another.  You want a workshop on 'Safe Stress!'"  Well, she erupted.  A guy that could make her laugh so much just couldn't be that fanatic.  I knew right away that I would be the man.  However, she still had to confer with top management.
A month or so had gone by, and no word from Ms. Administrator.  I decided to call.  As soon as I reintroduced myself, her bummed-out tone made the results predictable.  Top management had decided not just to play it safe; they went for the other big "A" - "Abstinence."  The topic of the weekend retreat was computers.  (Of course, these days, with computers and private chat rooms, never mind safe stress…you virtually need to practice safe sex.)
Well, at least I got a humorous story and a cool concept from the whole affair.  This had no small consequence.  For he who laughs last...lasts!   So one message and moral is surely this:  stress can be defused and interpersonal barriers lowered with understanding based on well-timed humor and laughter.

Shrink Rap:  The Origin of the Term
One morning in bed, in a dream-like state – neither sleeping nor awake – I start musing:  “Mark, you’re a therapist, you’ve been a university professor…what are you doing trying to write rap lyrics” (including lyrics to a “Black Beauty Contest – “The Electrifying Lady)?  And it suddenly hit me:  “Of course, you’re into Shrink Rap.”  And with the early ‘90s concept of Shrink Rap, a number of works quickly followed, with a Shrink Rapper twist.  After hearing the original “Stress Doc’s Stress Rap” ™, an African-American lawyer-friend noted:  “Oh, so you’re into ‘Aristocratic Rap.’”

The Stress Doc’s Stress Rap

When it comes to feelings do you stuff them inside?
Is tough John Wayne your emotional guide?
And it’s not just men so proud and tight-lipped.
For every Rambo there seems to be a Rambette.

So you give up sleep, become wired and spent
Escape lonely frustration as a mall-content.
It’s time to look at your style of stress.
You can’t just dress or undress for success.

Are you grouchy with colleagues or quietly mean?
Hell, you’d rather talk to your computer machine.
When the smartphone rings, you’re under the gun
Now you could reach out and really crush someone.

The boss makes demands yet gives little control
So you prey on chocolate and wish life were dull, but
Office desk’s a mess, often skipping meals
Inside your car looks like a pocketbook on wheels.

Those deadlines, deadlines...all that aggravation
Whew, you only have time for procrastination.
Now I made you feel guilty, you want to confess
Better you should practice the art of “Safe Stress.”

(c)  Mark Gorkin  1992Shrink Rap ™ Productions

The Stress Doc’s Formula for Natural SPEED

Are you the “poster child” for stress and duress?
Should you try Prozac?  Is it time to confess
To Ebay shopping – which may be a warning
When you're clicking madly at three in the morning?

But relax, have no fear...
The Stress Doc is here. So, lay worries to rest…
Now listen and learn to Practice Safe Stress!

As you sprint to the wire with blood pressure higher
Timeless mind-body tips to heed
For slowing down, getting feet on the ground
And building Natural SPEED – Sleep-Priority-Passion-Empathy-Exercise-Diet.

Don’t be cheap with your need for sleep
Maximum learning must be REM deep.
To be a beauty with mental acuity
Not that snooze-button bashing BLEEP!

For when it comes to daily slumber
All night gaming is dumb and dumber.
You may call me a grouchy old toad:
“Pull the d_ _n plug on ‘just one more’ download.”
Remember, it’s nature’s way to ebb and flow and help you grow!

"P" stands for "Priority"
You can't do it all every day.
Urgent means now but important can wait.
Do you know how to "N & N"? –
Just say "No and Negotiate!"

Now I hope you’ll pardon my asking:
“Must you always be multi-tasking?”
Oh, it’s just me, honey, your Energizer Bunny.
Running from quiet, your life is a riot.
Hmm…what is that “ADD” masking?

Another “P”-word is “Passion”
And we’re not talking sex, shoes, or fashion.
Don’t try to impress, better…
Learn to play chess
Or dig, dream, and dance in your garden.

The “s”-word for “passion” is suffering
As in the iconic “Passion Play”
Sometimes we must do soulful grieving
Sometimes just say:  Go ahead…Make My Day!

"E" is for the "Empathy"

Found in a caring shoulder.
But all give without take is a big mistake
For now you shoulder a boulder.

Find a stress buddy who knows TLC
Someone honest and self-aware –
One who gives “Tender Loving Criticism”
Yet also takes “Tough Loving Care!”

The second "E" is for "Exercise"
Start pumping iron or those thighs.
You may not need SSRIs.
Try thirty minutes of non-stop spin
For your mood uplifting endorphin.

DietAnd, finally, "D" is for a healthy "Diet"
Alas, many would rather die than try it.
To manage foods so often craved
Grieve, "let go," and then be brave
Sending diet fads to an early grave.

So eat those fruits and veggies
Try omega fish and bean protein.
For too much fats and sugar
Excess alcohol and caffeine
Is a rollercoaster formula
For a brain-fogged and artery-clogged machine.

When it comes to stress – you’re on the clock
Who you gonna get – the Stress Doc!

It's time to end this Shrink Rap
With final tips for you –
"A firm 'No' a day keeps the ulcers away, and the hostilities too."
So to lessen daily woes, "Do know your limits; don't limit your 'No's!"

Ponder this Stress Doc wit and wisdom
Try to live it day after day:
Burnout is not a sign of failure
You simply gave yourself away.

Remember, sometimes less is more
And more is really less.
Balance work and play, faith and love
And, of course...Practice Safe Stress!

© Mark Gorkin 2013
Shrink Rap ™ Productions

Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and "Psychohumorist" ™, is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative. Current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army. Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services. The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World. Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" – – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info, email:

Friday, April 21, 2017

IM4 ** Performance-Leadership ™: The Architecture and Artistry for Captivating an Audience

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A ground-breaking essay with links, pics, and comments along with a new model and method:  the Stress Doc's IM4 Performance-Leadership Formula-Architecture for Captivating an Audience.  MG

IM4 ** Performance-Leadership ™:  The Architecture and Artistry for Captivating an Audience

You know that exuberant feeling when you don’t just “walk your talk,” but have actually r/aced it.  What conditions allow this to happen?  Basically, I call it IM4 **:  The Performance Formula-Architecture for Captivating an AudienceImaginative Mind x Informative Message x Inspiring Messenger x Interactive Medium.  Maybe I’ve stumbled on a new “Triple ‘A’” – Architecture, Artistry & Audience.  Please be patient.  I’m the founder of a new AA group:  Acronyms Anonymous!  Anyway, last week, Wed. April 12th, (fittingly, my birthday), IM4 was in play at a lunchtime keynote for the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads SHRM Chapter – "Keys to Captivating an Audience."

FYI, here’s a link with lively event pics and comments:

Let me identify the Four IMs and provide brief illustrations of the evolutionary tools and techniques that evoked unsolicited enthusiastic response from participants:

April 12th Testimonials

Mark Gorkin helping us all be better communicators and facilitators at this month's HRSHRM chapter meeting...AND he rapped for us!
Karis T, SPHR, SHRM-SCP  (the photographer and original post person)

So good to see you again yesterday. You're an absolute delight to listen to and an inspiration for those of us that may be introverted that there is hope to come out of our shell.


Thank you for such a great presentation on Wednesday.  Also, I am hoping we can connect over the phone.  I am doing some presentations and I want to start incorporating some of your great ideas!!!  Thank you again, Susan Barr, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Great presentation today. Love that it was so unexpected!
Claudine Baggett, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP; (wonder what she was expecting)

Definitely engaging!
Michelle Hurst, PHR, SHRM-CP

The IM4 Performance Formula-Architecture:
Imaginative Mind x Informative Message x Inspiring Messenger x Interactive Medium
A.  Imaginative Mind

The initial IM needs to kick in way before you go on stage.  Surely, imagination and improvisation are vital tools once in performance mode.  But the foundation or launching pad for high-impact presentational performance is “imaginative preparation.”  Go beyond the logical sequencing of Power Point material and predictable rehearsal.  (Though I have seen a lively presentation that was all cartoon-like slides poking fun of all the “stress carriers” in the legal profession.)  Generate a motivational mix of ideas and interaction.  Pair your concise concepts with “Get FIT” – the Stress Doc’s acronym for FUN-Interactive-Thought-provoking – small group exercises.  (Examples to follow.)  Begin to think like an “Orchestra Leader”:  help individuals and the collective bring out their best music.  At the same time, be sufficiently prepared so you can momentarily go “off message” and spontaneously engage in a “jazz riff” with your audience.  And you’ll still have time for a crowd-cheering solo.  (For me, my solo hits a high note when I suddenly inform the group of my secret identity:  “I’m pioneering the field of psychologically humorous rap music and, as a therapist, calling it, of course, Shrink Rap ™ Productions!  I also break out the Blues Brother hat, sunglasses, and black tambourine regalia.

Not surprisingly, one participant wasn’t sure she was ready to break out in a rap (even if it’s an “Aristocratic Rap”) at her next company meeting.  You can still develop mind-grabbing techniques, e.g., coming out in costume, or having a “Forms Funeral” to enable employees to deal with angst around computer systems changes, the loss of familiar procedures and, in general, an uncertain future.

Finally, the practical application of imagination reminds me that if you can pair a hard to pin down concept – such, as loss or adaptational angst – with a visual metaphor – e.g., “Forms Funeral” – that is, connect the abstract with a surprising or evocative yet relevant concrete image, people will better understand the issue they are facing.  And understanding is the first step towards planning and taking action and, ultimately, having a greater sense of involvement along with control.

B.  Informative Message

One secret ingredient for adding power and punch to content and delivery is pithiness and concept-practice partnership.  After the program, one somewhat startled participant asked if I always presented in this manner, as if it was a radical idea.  Actually, it’s been a trial and error model and method that has evolved and mutated over blood, sweat, and time.  I either provide:  a) potent conceptual bullet points for five minutes (seven at the most) and then move the group into a team exercise that illuminates the streamlined ideas and tools or b) we do the aforementioned “Get FIT” exercise – this platform becomes the springboard for bringing to life concepts, skills, and strategies.  And again, I often use time limits to make sure there’s a vital and continuous ebb and flow between lecture and learning lab. For example, I’ll end an exercise even though the energy in the room is fairly high.  Just means folks will be even more ready for the next experience.

The conscious use of two related elements – time and surprise – also informs my message.  And two paragons of communication – Shakespeare and Twain – would approve.  For the Bard, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”  While for America’s renowned author, speaker, and humorist, “Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which before their union were not perceived to have any relation.”  And I’ve come up with two acronyms (actually, one is a redesign), that, hopefully, illuminate these truths:

1) The Stress Doc’s New KISS:  Keep It Short (or Simple) and Smart!  (Much better than the conventional, Keep It Simple, Stupid!), and
2) The Memorable MISS:  Make It Sassy (or Subtle) and Surprising!

In a world dominated by smartphones, your first challenge as a communicator-leader-educator-performer is to get folks to, “Stop, Look, and Listen.”  Message sent cannot equal message received if you don’t have people’s “Attention.”  As one of the above testimonials indicated:  Great presentation!!! I was motivated the moment I entered the door.  A provocative “Short and Smart” Story often does the trick.  After some opening, light hearted patter, I suddenly said, “Hey, we’re gonna have fun…but it’s not all fun and games.  I can be tough.  I recall a Practice Safe Stress program.  A State Department manager, challenged me with, ‘What do you call it if you don’t have any stress?’  My immediate reply:  Denial!”  Not only did I get folk’s attention…I also began cultivating an atmosphere of “Anticipation”:  “What will this edgy guy do next?”  The performance edge:  I want people on the edge of their seats…focused on and taking in my immediate message and wondering about future movement.

C.  Inspiring Messenger

When thinking of inspiring figures, certain people and personality traits typically come to mind.  (I’ll let you fill in the blank; FYI, Abraham Lincoln is at the top of my list.)  However, charisma or a magnetic personality isn’t necessarily the bottom-line characteristic.  For me, language and ideas, passion and courage, engaging and challenging or surpassing the expectations of an audience are a pretty inspiring mix.

Even a thought-provoking exercise can take you and an audience down an inspirational path.  For example, in the recent “Keys to Captivating an Audience” program, I deviated from the norm of the fluff, ice-breaker exercise.  I broke the large group into small groups and, then, in terms of communication substance and style, had them differentiate “compelling” from “captivating.”  (BTW, the idea for this exercise came during my “imaginative” preparation phase.)  In addition to subsequently providing dictionary definitions, I also delineated actual and theoretical polar synonyms that personally illuminate the more inner/forceful-driven nature of “compelling” and the more outer/fantasy-driven nature of “captivating”:

Compelling:  Push…Force…Focus…Purpose…Head…Soul

Captivating:  Pull…Fantasy…Flow…Passion…Heart…Spirit

Compelling gets your attention; captivating is alluring.  And having folks ponder such intellectually and emotionally charged concepts, not only helps grab immediate attention (“I was motivated the moment I entered the door”) but may have future appeal (“I am hoping we can connect over the phone.  I am doing some presentations and I want to start incorporating some of your great ideas!!!”).

In addition, while concept differentiation is an unconventional opening, it was mostly cognitively challenging.  I don’t want the first exercise to be perceived as too emotionally risky.  Initially, the goal is to engage participants by having them feel curious yet comfortable rather than vulnerable.  And, as mentioned, I don’t do superficial!

Quickly Shifting Presentation Gears

Then, as soon as we completed the compelling-captivating exercise, I suddenly did a 180.  Seemingly out of the blue, though, in truth, premeditated, I asked the group, “What do you think of this guy up here, even after just 5-10 minutes?”  I also encouraged them to share “pros and cons” – e.g., whether they see me as being “serious, silly, or self-centered.”

Most of the comments, alas, were positive – confident, entertaining, passionate, great energy, etc.  I say alas, because a great way of beginning to build trust and, ultimately, inspire is for people to see that you can calmly and coolly handle their criticism.  (Years ago, I recall a workshop participant likening me to Clint Eastwood 😉.)  So, not able to get the external gibes, I poked some good-natured fun at myself.  First, instinctively, in an exaggerated, non-verbal manner, I kept encouraging all the positives:  “Hey, I can listen to this all day…”  But then added a familiar punchline, “You know the old expression:  Vanity thy name is Gorkin!

Actually, from calm and cool to being vital and vain, and all emotional points in between, able to accept and authentically express the myriad parts of oneself – the strong and the vulnerable, the serious and the quirky, to reveal both the cave and stage personae – this is what makes people exclaim, “Wow, you’ve got great energy.”  And, of course, they are really asking, “How do I get some of that?”  (Or as an above testify wrote:  "You're an absolute delight to listen to and an inspiration for those of us that may be introverted that there is hope to come out of our shell.")

Inspiring Factors

As a close to this section, let’s review some of the factors that may have helped folks begin to see me as inspiring:

1.  Language and Ideas.  Not only do I try to make words come alive and paint pictures, but I’m encouraging people to reflect upon or think anew about both common and uncommon terms and ideas.  Recall Twain’s notion of “wit”:  the sudden marriage of seemingly disparate ideas…that may well reveal a greater, perhaps inspiring, truth.  Again, the same gentleman that noted the frequent, yin-yang weave of concepts and exercises, also appreciated my very purposeful use of words.

2.  Courageous.  Courage is not just performing feats of daring under critical or life-threatening conditions.  In my mind, it also means acknowledging and sometimes revealing your warts and weaknesses – sometimes by choice, sometimes involuntarily – whether in an intimate relationship or in a larger social-performance arena.  (I just had a semi-traumatic flashback to the performance anxiety in my early days of Cable TV.)  And it’s also the courage to invite criticism…enough said.  But wait…I believe being audacious involves another character trait:  Being your fullest self with being full of yourself!  Amen and women, to that!

3.  Being Slightly Outrageous.  When someone commented on my unorthodox or “out there” style, my immediate counter:  Nobody’s paying me…I can say whatever I want!   And then gave a “not really” smile while shaking my head ever so slightly.  At minimum, the willingness to speak the unspeakable is often courageous and may be “out-rage-ous.”

4. Self-Effacing Humor.  People often admire “the comfortable in one’s own skin” quality of individuals who can poke gentle fun at themselves.  As I once penned:  People are less defensive and more open to a serious message that’s gift-wrapped with humor.  Getting people to laugh with you, often helps win them over to your side or cause.

5.  Surprising.  Surprising is often at the heart of each of the four preceding factors.  And with this inspiring foundation, there’s not too big a gap from having folks wondering what next you will do to having them see you with a sense of wonder!  Remember, imaginatively playing with serious or substantive content, often makes surprising a springboard to inspiring!

And, once again, I shifted the focus, hopefully building a bridge to the fourth IM.  As acclaimed author and essayist, Adam Gopnik, has observed:  Repetition is the law of nature, but variation is the rule of life.

D.  Interactive Medium

As already noted, having a conceptual discussion introduce a related and illuminating small group exercise generates new sharing and learning flow. Returning to the “great energy” observation in our previous discussion, now the question was, “When do you have your best energy?”  (Or second best, this is a PG-rated program 😉).”  I also asked them to “discuss barriers and bridges to head and heart flow.”  So, we are expanding the inspirational field:  encouraging participants to acknowledge when they are at least passionate, if not inspiring.  Also, motivating them to acknowledge, if not begin to confront, some of those barriers to less censored and more authentic expression.  (Actually, the final exercise, brings this last point to life:  “Share an Embarrassing Moment.”  I also call it the “Confronting Your Intimate FOE” Exercise:  From Fear of Exposure to the Fun of Embarrassment.  Based on the energy and laughter in the room, admittedly after the initial awkward silence, the exercise truly walks its talk!)

Interactive exercises, in addition to creating that conceptual-practical ebb and flow along with facilitating conditions for surprise, encourage all manner and degrees of sharing, self-revelation, and psycho-social engagement.  Let me list five specific features and benefits of creating subgroups of collaboration, for transforming a presentation into a sharing-learning lab and participatory-performance arena:

1. More Active Audience Involvement. Participants become integral players in the show. First, as a presenter, talking less often helps your messaging take on a greater sense of importance, i.e., the “E. F. Hutton” effect. But most important, exercises allow for tapping into the collective experience and knowledge – folly and wisdom – in the room. And having the small groups report back their discussions to the large group helps all feel they are journeying in a diverse yet still common boat. Naturally, the boat may have some holes, and sometimes takes on water. Also, the exercises hopefully become increasingly challenging seas. Still it’s our boat and, by being active players, most are more committed to making this boat – from team to overall presentation – work.

2.  Challenging the “Self”-less Team.  While collaboration is a hallmark of this interactive-team medium, it does not erase individual impact.  I’ve always been vaguely uncomfortable with the wall poster axiom, “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.”  Forget diversity; no different points of view?  Eventually, I decided that while there may, in fact, be no ‘I’ in the spelling of team …There Are Two “I”s in Winning…and these “I”s can “C”:  Winning teams blend Individual Creativity and Interactive Community!  And the benefits are mutual:  creative individuals often challenge a group to move beyond its comfort zone, providing a vision that may open hearts and minds.  And now there’s the possibility for new action.  In return, the collective pulls the creator back from the overly self-centered ledge, while also challenging this unconventional thinker to make her ideas and vision more accessible to and workable for others.

3.  Evolve Openness and Trust.  Exercises are purposefully orchestrated for head-heart difficulty and participant vulnerability.  Initially, all should be able to venture a share without the fear of revealing too much and feeling exposed.  This strategic touch progressively builds intimacy and trust between you and the audience and, most importantly, among team members and the group as a whole.  Of course, it’s not all scripted.  How a group handles conflict can make or break the team experience.  Also, as a leader, I may spontaneously use an exercise out of sequence based on a reading of the emotional energy, or lack thereof, in the room.  (The exercise debrief may need to account for this deviation by encouraging more audience questions and ventilation.)

4.  From Intimacy to Inspiration.  The group exchange of histories, viewpoints, and personalities, the sharing of flaws and foibles, vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies, help many individuals recognize they are not weird or alone.  (Okay, maybe still a little weird.)  Listening to others stories begins to facilitate a connection based on essence not surface. Stories become mirrors for more candid self-reflection and subsequent disclosure.  In fact, the ability to tell a meaningful and motivational, compelling and/or captivating story helps an individual begin a process of metamorphosis:  from unknown to distinct group member, from intimate peer to inspiring role model

5.  Multifaceted Synergy.  Finally, a playful and problem-solving medium, that is, both high task and human touch, is a powerful platform not just for engagement, nor simply for sharing ideas and emotions.  Small group interaction is the medium par excellence for generating synergy: a) where the rich and unpredictable interaction of the individual parts, that is, distinct individuals plus the complex and coordinated communication among these parts, creates a generative whole; now 2 + 2 = 5.  And perhaps the biggest magical occurrence is when these same parts creatively evolve into productive partners!

Closing Summary

An ambitious model and method has been presented:  IM4 Performance-Leadership:  The Architecture and Artistry for Captivating an Audience.  As has been outlined, the four dynamic, multiplicative components of IM4 Performance-Leadership:

Imaginative Mind:  preparation linking new and surprising components and relationships
Informative Message:  the rich yet concise interplay of concept, skill, and interaction-application
Inspiring Messenger:   a real and risk-taking individual bringing his or her full self to the arena
Interactive Medium:  a sharing-learning lab and participatory-performance platform inviting synergy

Performance-learning formula-architecture has reflected “experimental innovation”:  trial and error (at times a little terror), along with sometimes more, sometimes less tinkering, over the course of four decades. (In hindsight, I wish I’d done more experimenting and adapting.)  Nonetheless, this initial, trail-blazing exposition will provide a pathway for and expedite the learning process of kindred, IM4 Performance-Learning spirits!

Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and "Psychohumorist" ™, is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative. Current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army. Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services. The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World. Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" – – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info, email: